What can USC football prospects expect when it comes to the 2017 NFL Draft? The Trojans are expected to add plenty to their tally of all-time picks.
On Thursday, the long road to the NFL Draft for USC football’s pro prospects in 2017 will finally reach it’s end.
From fringe first rounders to potential undrafted free agents, the Trojans have a wide variety of paths to walk going into draft weekend.
Here’s a look at what to expect for USC’s prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft:
Adoree’ Jackson — Early Round 2
There are a select few mock drafts who think Jackson could sneak into the first round, but it would be a bit of a surprise to hear his name on Thursday night. Instead, he’ll likely grace the stage in Philadelphia early on Day 2 with plenty of value as, at worst, a slot cornerback and exciting kick and punt return prospect.
JuJu Smith-Schuster — Middle Round 2
Smith-Schuster compares positively to Anquan Boldin, with size, strength and an intangible competitive nature which is likely to see him drafted in the middle of the second round. Some mock drafts project him a bit later falling into Round 3 though.
Zach Banner — Round 4
It’s hard to pin down Banner’s draft stock. The trio of Trojan offensive lineman with draft hopes grade everywhere from Round 3 to Round 7 if you peruse mock drafts from around the web. However, Banner’s size makes him a commodity even if there are concerns about where he might fit at the pro level because of it. He may go unpicked until Day 3 begins, but it would be a surprise if he waits too long on Saturday before getting a call.
Stevie Tu’ikolovatu — Round 4
It’s particularly tough to gauge Tu’ikolovatu’s value because so much of it will be tied to team need. As one of the premiere run-stopping defensive linemen in the draft, there are those who believe he has the ability to be elite. But he’s also in his mid-20s and his impact is limited to the run game. Could he sneak into the third round on Day 2? Possibly, if a team with the need takes a chance on him much like the Browns snatched up Cody Kessler earlier than expected last year. If not, he’d be an attractive pick on Day 3.
Chad Wheeler — Round 5
A four-year starter at USC, Wheeler has the experience and the athleticism to warrant a pick early on Day 3, but he could slip late into the day with injury concerns to contend with. He could go in Round 4. It would be equally expected to hear his name in the fifth or sixth rounds.
Damien Mama — Round 5
More was expected of Mama when it comes to draftability when he announced his decision to declare early. Instead, each step of the draft process seems to have pushed him down draft boards. Still, he has a broad and powerful base which could prompt an earlier pick on Day 3, but it would be a surprise to see him taken too far ahead of Round 5.
Justin Davis — Round 6
One of two potential “value” picks in the late rounds for USC, Davis offers intrigue with his speed and shiftiness but red flags on injuries and fumbles. He’s likely to be drafted, but the sixth round is probably his best case scenario.
Darreus Rogers — UDFA
Rogers, like Davis, could be a “value” pick in the final couple rounds of the draft, if a team is willing to take a chance on him. Todd McShay credited him with the best ball skills in the draft but his 4.90-second 40-yard dash and mediocre physical testing is a major red flag. If he goes undrafted, there should be plenty of suitors interested in bringing him in as an undrafted free agent.
De’Quan Hampton — UDFA
With the exception of his star turn against UCLA in 2016, Hampton never quite lived up to expectations at USC so his draft stock is quite limited. At 6-4, 225 pounds he might bring enough potential as a physical specimen to sign as an undrafted free agent.
Taylor McNamara — UDFA
The a couple mock drafts feature McNamara as a seventh round draft pick, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that a team could snap up the tight end before the draft ends. Having said that, he’s still most likely to wait until after the draft to find a pro home as an undrafted free agent.
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Leon McQuay III — UDFA
Like McNamara, McQuay does makes appearances on some mock drafts, but they’re few and far between. So it’s a safe bet that the safety will go undrafted, though his athleticism and senior year production should ensure some attention as a free agent.
Quinton Powell — UDFA
Unable to break into USC’s starting lineup at any point, it’s unsurprising that Powell hasn’t generated too much draft buzz. After the draft, he’ll be hoping to sign as an undrafted free agent.
Isaac Whitney — UDFA
Like Hampton, Whitney possesses the physical tools to attract interest from NFL teams, but his lack of production at USC should keep him out of the draft and in the pool of undrafted free agents.